Assembly to meet March 27 for voting – New MPs Mulla, Kandari sworn in
KUWAIT: Ten MPs yesterday filed a no-confidence motion against Commerce and Industry Minister Khaled Al-Roudhan following a marathon nine-hour grilling in which the minister faced allegations of financial and administrative violations. Roudhan categorically denied the allegations and vowed to forge ahead with reforms, saying that he was grilled for “known reasons”, but did not name them. “I know why I was grilled. It is very clear,” said the minister without elaborating.
At the end of the grilling, Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem said he received a no-confidence motion against the minister and that a special session will be held on March 27 to vote on it. The motion needs the votes of 25 elected MPs to pass, and if approved, it would mean an automatic dismissal of the minister. Cabinet ministers are not allowed to vote on such motions.
Those who signed the motion are MPs Abdulkarim Al-Kandari, Khaled Al-Otaibi, Saleh Ashour, Al-Humaidi Al-Subaei and Mubarak Al-Hajraf (the two grillers), Mohammad Al-Mutair, Farraj Al-Arbeed, Thamer Al-Suwait, Shuaib Al-Muwaizri and Abdullah Fahhad. The motion was submitted after the two grillers charged that the minister did not answer their questions and that he failed to respond to the issues raised by the grilling. The minister denied the claims.
The two lawmakers who grilled the minister detailed a number of alleged financial and administrative violations, especially with regards to a real estate cheating scandal, the small- and medium-sized enterprises fund and the public industrial authority. Hajraf accused the minister of failing to confront the so-called real estate cheating scandal, saying 11,000 victims or a total of 60,000 people – if their family members are included – have been harmed.
He said that the total amounts involved in the scandal reached KD 500 million and that some of the cheating companies’ owners are not Kuwaiti, and accordingly, no one will be able to compensate the victims. Several real estate companies operating in the country sold thousands of houses in several foreign countries, and most of the transactions were found to be fraudulent. Hajraf charged corruption is rife in the public industrial authority, saying that several such cases are being studied by the anti-corruption authority.
Subaei accused the minister of failing to impose the law on the national fund for small and medium projects, saying it is full of corruption. He also accused him of appointing more expatriates in the ministry. Roudhan however denied the allegations and said he was pleased to be questioned in the Assembly because this gives him the chance to explain what he has achieved. He said that the real estate cheating scandal took place before he became minister and it was he who began implementing solutions and referred some of the complaints to the public prosecution.
Roudhan said 90 percent of the 976 complaints were submitted during his term and that as many as 687 cases were sent to the public prosecution. The minister also denied alleged corruption at the industrial authority, saying that he began distributing industrial plots in a very transparent manner after the distribution had been suspended for 12 years. He said that he sacked the head of the small and medium enterprises fund after he refused to cooperate with the Audit Bureau investigation into alleged violations.
He added that the fund’s case is still with the Audit Bureau and that the ministry has managed to take back money spent illegally. But the two lawmakers accused Roudhan of not answering all the issues and charged that the minister did not respond to several charges of corruption and violations.
Earlier, Bader Al-Mulla and Abdullah Al-Kandari were sworn in after their victory in the recently-held by-elections in the second and third constituencies. Mulla, born in 1971, holds a PhD in civil law and is a lawyer at the court of cassation and constitutional court. He is also a professor of civil law at Saad Al-Abdullah Academy for Security Sciences and a lecturer at Kuwait University. Also born in 1971, Kandari has a master’s degree in law from Kuwait University. He is also a lawyer at the court of cassation and constitutional court, and is a member of the Brussels-based International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), among other posts.
By B Izzak